Since the city started counting the homeless in 1983, the shelter population has grown from 12,600 to its current 63,000.
Each mayor — Ed Koch, David Dinkins, Rudy Giuliani, Michael Bloomberg and now Bill de Blasio — has struggled to reverse this progression, with periodic successes overwhelmed by the sheer numbers.
Here’s a mayor-by-mayor breakdown:
KOCH — Entered City Hall in January 1978, when homeless people living on the streets was common. The dynamic shifted dramatically on Aug. 26, 1981, the day the courts ruled in Callahan v. New York City that the city must provide shelter to any homeless person who “by reason of physical, mental or social dysfunction is in need of temporary housing.”
The suit was brought in 1979 on behalf of Robert Callahan, a homeless Korean War vet. After Callahan’s legal win, the shelter numbers grew exponentially, peaking around 27,000 in March 1987 during Democrat Koch’s second term. The numbers dipped later as Koch funded a dramatic increase in affordable housing. When he exited City Hall in December 1989, the number had fallen to 20,000.
DINKINS — Entered City Hall in January 1990, and the shelter census continued to fall to an all-time post-Callahan low of 18,000 in June 1990. The drop was due in part to a joint-effort from Democrats Dinkins and then-Gov. Mario Cuomo to fund supportive housing for homeless individuals with mental disabilities. There was also a push to reduce the use of huge armories as shelters and provide smaller shelters with services for the mentally ill, and a move to stop sheltering families in hotels. By the end of Dinkins’ tenure in 1993, however, the shelter population was once again on the rise, hitting 23,000 as he left City Hall.
GIULIANI —Entered City Hall in January 1994, and over his two terms, Republican Giuliani ratcheted up enforcement of shelter evictions for failure to adhere to administrative rules, and he began requiring some shelter residents to perform workfare assignments. On Thanksgiving eve in 1999, Giuliani ordered the NYPD to begin making mass arrests of homeless people living in the street if they refused to go to shelters. Dozens were arrested. He also had the NYPD initiate sweeps inside shelters to pursue homeless residents with outstanding warrants. Despite his hard-line tactics, shelter population began an increase that would last for years, hitting 30,000 as Giuliani left office in December 2001.
BLOOMBERG — Entered City Hall in January 2002, and kicked off a mayoral tenure marked by the biggest increase in shelter population since 1981. In the beginning of his three terms, Republican Bloomberg vowed to cut the number of homeless by half. He aggressively courted federal dollars to create supportive housing, and the shelter numbers dropped from 38,000 in early 2003 to 31,500 in 2006. But from there, the population began to climb like never before, particularly after Gov. Andrew Cuomo cut funding for a supportive housing program for families called Advantage. Without state help, Bloomberg killed the city’s share and the program ended. Thousands of families and individuals swamped the city shelter system, driving the numbers ever higher. By the time Bloomberg left office in December 2013, the homeless population had skyrocketed to yet another record: 51,000.
NYC homeless by month, 1983-2017
Data courtesy Coalition For The Homeless, based on NYC data.
DE BLASIO — Entered City Hall in January 2014, and vowed to reverse Bloomberg’s policies. De Blasio said he would end the placement of homeless in costly hotels and decrepit private “cluster site” apartments. Since then the homeless census has grown to 63,000. While de Blasio has reduced the number of cluster sites by 35%, he’s actually increased the use of hotels from 84 to 91. And his promise to build 90 shelters in seven years is off to a slow start, with only 11 of the 20 shelters he promised in year one open for business as de Blasio moves into his second term.
Source : http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-mayors-koch-de-blasio-dealt-homeless-article-1.3826927